Germany retain European title with thrilling comeback over Belgian hosts

Men’s TriFinance EuroHockey Championships final
Germany 3 (M Zwicker, B Wess, O Korn) Belgium 1 (T Boon)

Germany claimed their sixth European championship title as they came from a goal down to defeat their Belgian hosts in Boom, retaining the title they won in Monchengladbach two years ago.

Try as Belgium might, they could not repeat their heroics against the same opposition on the first night of the competition when they won 2-1 as the Germans produced their finest performance to date in the competition.

Spurred on by a noisy home crowd, Belgium made the brighter opening with Cedric Charlier, John-John Dohmen, Loick Luypaert and Thomas Briels all firing in shots in the first quarter.

1ce807658221316903ec07f102177f94Germany gradually grew more into the game with Thilo Stralkowski and Moritz Furste denied by Vincent Vanasch. He also saved in the last minute of the first half and the second minute after the break to keep the game scoreless from Florian Fuchs effort when clean through.

Belgium got in front, though, in the 38th minute when Felix Denayer arrowed a ball in from the left channel into the path of Tom Boon. He swung out his stick and connected first time to beat Nicolas Jacobi. Germany argued the ball had hit Boon’s back stick before going into the goal but the video umpire did not see it that way and the goal stood.

The lead only lasted four minutes, however, Martin Zwicker guiding in Mats Grambusch’s pass from close range after an incredibly quick attack down the left wing. And his side was in front in the 52nd minute as Benjamin Wess cut in from the right, played a one-two and thumped the ball into the bottom corner.

From there, Belgium pushed forward, winning a couple of corners while Sebastien Dockier’s rising shot rebounded off the post with nine minutes to go.

But the game was effectively won when Grambusch unleashed a powerful backhand shot which Vanasch could only parry over his shoulder. It looked to be dropping by Oliver Korn made sure at the back post.

Bronze medal match
Netherlands 3 (J Hertzberger 3) England 2 (I Lewers, R Smith)

Jeroen Hertzberger’s hat trick propelled the Netherlands to the bronze medal, striking twice early in the second match to swing the result away from England.

England took a 2-1 lead into the half-time break, scoring twice from their three corners after the Dutch had opened the scoring by the same method.

Hertzberger started the run in the eighth minute, converting after Klaas Vermeulen had dragged won the set piece. But England were defending well and counter-attacking at speed. Tom Carson drew a good save from Jaap Stockmann before Iain Lewers equalised with a special goal.

c1e00571cc42cffe9754da8abb0cd210His corner injection was not stopped but the ball was worked back to him tight on the baseline and he picked out a tiny gap over Stockmann’s shoulder from a very narrow angle.

Harry Martin then tested Stockmann while Jelle Galema’s shot needed to be saved by George Pinner. England hit the front on the 34thminute with a Richard Smith low flick doing the damage.

It was almost level at the break, however, as Valentin Verga’s swept cross was touched just wide by Constantijn Jonker.

The tide turned early in the second half with Hertzberger scoring in the 39th and 42nd minute. His second was a low drag-flick that wrong-footed Pinner – who had a fine game otherwise – and went in the centre of the goal.

And the striker got the critical goal soon after. Robbert Kemperman provided a great pass for Billy Bakker whose initial shot was blocked by Lewers but the ball came back to him and he laid off for Hertzberger to shoot home.

From there, the Dutch were largely on top but were almost stung right at the end when Simon Mantell crossed behind the last defender where two English players were arriving. Unfortunately, Adam Dixon missed his effort and the ball hit his back. It meant that the Netherlands claimed their third European bronze medal with England missing out.

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